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Hunt v. Holdclaw

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 2, 2016

MICHAEL HUNT, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL HOLDSCLAW, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants’, former Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”) Gregg L. Hershberger (“Secretary Hershberger”), former Warden of Jessup Correctional Institution (“JCI”) John Wolfe (“Warden Wolfe”), Correctional Officer (“C.O.”) II Michael Holdsclaw (“Officer Holdsclaw”), C.O. II Justice Marboah (“Officer Marboah”), and C.O. II Ayokunle Ayodele (“Officer Ayodele”) (collectively, the “State Defendants”), [1] Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgement (ECF No. 20). Also pending are Plaintiff Michael Hunt’s Motions for Appointment of Counsel (ECF Nos. 10 and 22). The Court finds no hearing necessary pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the State Defendants’ Motion and deny Hunt’s Motions.[2]

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Hunt’s Allegations[3]

         Hunt is an inmate at JCI. He alleges that on February 22, 2015 at approximately 6:00 p.m., corrections officers escorted him to a shack at JCI, which he describes as a “hangout station for officers.” (Compl. at 3, ECF No. 1). Hunt states the officers ordered him to take his clothes off and that he “ignored the comment.” (Id.). When Hunt stood up from the chair in which he was sitting, he alleges that Officer Justice Marboah punched him in the face. (Id.). Following the punch to his face, Hunt states that Officers Holdsclaw and Ayodele assisted Officer Marboah in taking Hunt to the ground. (Id.). Officer Holdsclaw then straddled Hunt and attempted to restrain Hunt’s arms, while Officer Ayodele, who was positioned on Hunt’s left side, and Officer Marboah, who was positioned on Hunt’s right side, repeatedly kicked and punched Hunt. (Id.). The kicks and punches continued until Officer Holdsclaw told Officers Marboah and Ayodele to “stop having fun” and handcuffs were placed on Hunt. (Id.).

         Hunt maintains that as a result of the assault (the “Altercation”) he suffered numerous injuries to his face, neck, back, waist, and arms. (Id.). He maintains his right eye was “partially swollen, ” the inside of his mouth and his forearms were cut, there was a laceration to his hand, and a laceration on his back below the shoulder.

         Hunt complained about the Altercation to Warden Wolfe who responded that the injuries were caused by Hunt’s own actions and found Hunt’s complaint to be without merit. (Id.). The Commissioner of Corrections upheld Warden Wolfe’s decision and dismissed Hunt’s complaint. (Id.). Hunt maintains that a proper investigation would have established that Officers Holdsclaw, Ayodele, and Marboah used excessive force. (Id.). Hunt admits to using profanity during the Altercation. (Id.). Hunt further alleges that in dismissing his administrative complaint, Warden Wolfe and Secretary Hershberger sanctioned the Officers’ excessive use of force. (Id.).

         B. State Defendants’ Response

         The State Defendants paint a far different picture of the Altercation. At approximately 6:10 p.m., during mass movement for the dinner meal for C-Building at JCI, Officer Babatunde Abidogun saw Hunt enter the dining room from the wrong direction of the compound. (Defs.’ Mot. Dismiss or Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 [“DPSCS Records”] at 6, 14, ECF No. 20-3).[4] Officer Abidogun inquired about Hunt’s housing assignment and Hunt replied he was assigned to C-Building. (Id.). Officer Abidogun then asked where Hunt was coming from, and Hunt walked away stating, “don’t start your African bullshit.” (Id.).

         Officer Marboah then approached Hunt and asked for his identification card. (Id.). Officer Abidogun saw Hunt clench his fist and raise his hand above his belt level toward Officer Marboah. (Id.). Based on that observation, Officer Abidogun called Officer Holdsclaw, who was the officer in charge of the compound, for back-up. (Id.). When Officer Holdsclaw arrived, Hunt was shouting at Officers Marboah and Abidogun and refusing orders to leave the dining room. (Id. at 59). Officer Holdsclaw gave Hunt a direct order to leave the dining room, Hunt complied, and Officers Holdsclaw and Marboah escorted Hunt from the area without further incident. (Id.).

         When Officers Holdsclaw and Marboah arrived with Hunt at the Compound office, which Hunt refers to in his Complaint as the “shack, ” Marboah gave Hunt an order to prepare for a strip search. (Id. at 14). Hunt refused to comply and instead exclaimed, “if you touch me, I will f**k you up.” (Id.). Officer Marboah gave Hunt another order to prepare for a strip search and Hunt advanced toward Officer Marboah aggressively and pushed against Officer Marboah’s chest with both of his hands. (Id. at 59, 67-71). Officer Marboah responded by grabbing Hunt’s left arm and Officer Holdsclaw grabbed Hunt’s right arm, taking Hunt to the floor to control him. (Id.). Hunt continued to struggle and resisted being handcuffed. (Id.). Officer Ayodele then responded to the area to assist and held Hunts’ hands behind his back while Officer Holdsclaw applied handcuffs. (Id. at 28, 77-79). Officer Marboah advised Hunt he would be receiving a Notice of Infraction for his actions. (Id. 67-71). Officer Julius Akingbehin then escorted Hunt to the medical department for evaluation. (Id. at 73-74).

         Margaret Adeoye, R.N., (“Nurse Adeoye”) examined Hunt and noted that he had several lacerations to his back, neck, forehead, and right upper side of his face. (Id. at 36). Nurse Adeoye also noted “profuse bleeding, ” but did not note the origin of the bleeding. (Id.). A further notation states the bleeding was controlled. (Id.). She further noted that Hunt had pain in the area of his ribs, but that his abdomen was not painful or tender and otherwise did not show a sign of injury. (Id.). In addition, Hunt complained of pain in his lower back and lower extremities, but Nurse Adeoye noted there was no sign of bleeding from those areas of his body. (Id.). Hunt received 650 mg of Acetaminophen for a headache. (Id.). On February 27, 2015, five days after the incident, Hunt received an x-ray of his chest which revealed a subtle non-displaced fracture of the seventh rib. (Id. at 154, 156).

         Following the Altercation, Officer Marboah charged Hunt with violation of rules 102 (assault or batter on another inmate), 104 (use of threatening language), 312 (interfering with or resisting the duties of staff), and 405 (insolence, disrespect, vulgar language). (Id. at 68). At an adjustment hearing on April 7, 2015, a hearing officer found Hunt guilty of violating rules 104, 312, and 405. (Mot. Dismiss or Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 4 at 3, ECF No. 20-6). The hearing officer noted that Hunt admitted to telling the Officers to “get the f**k away from” him. (Id. at 4).

         C. Proce ...


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